GlobalWealth, a Norwegian sovereign wealth fund, faced challenges such as slow decision-making, hierarchical structures, and departmental silos. The management initiated an Agile transformation to enhance operational efficiency, encourage collaboration, and adapt to market volatility and stakeholder needs.
Start of the Journey
The transformation began with considerable investment in employee training and hiring external Agile coaches. Initial changes were at the team level, including introducing cross-functional teams. The organization also transitioned from a detailed documentation approach to an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) model, enabling quicker project validation cycles, notably in new investment algorithms.
What's Happening Today?
The MVP approach enabled the investment team to validate new strategies on a smaller scale before full implementation. While this allowed for quicker responses to market shifts, some analysts expressed concerns that the pace might compromise the depth of their market analyses.
The risk management team adopted practices like "Just-In-Time" risk analysis and "Risk Burndown Graphs" - tracking iteration residual risk, comprised of the cumulative residual risk of user stories and risk linked to transfer or sharing strategies that cannot be entirely eliminated. Integrated with machine learning algorithms, real-time data analytics tools were also implemented. These practices allowed for quicker adjustments to risk profiles but led to concerns over the reliability of machine-driven assessments, a pain point still felt today.
The department transitioned to an Agile recruitment framework that included sprint-based candidate evaluations and iterative feedback loops. While this expedited the hiring process, it also induced stress and uncertainty among HR professionals, impacting psychological safety as they adapted to new metrics.
Legal and Compliance
Feedback loops with external stakeholders were implemented, enabling proactive legal compliance. The faster pace led to an energetic work environment and sparked concerns over the thoroughness of due diligence, causing some unease within the team.
The department shifted from a ticket-based issue resolution system to an interactive digital Kanban board for real-time tracking of operational issues. While this improved response times, the initial adaptation phase led to disruptions, causing concern among team members.
The IT department experienced quicker software deployments, boosting team confidence but also causing moments of frustration due to a steep learning curve, affecting morale.
Cross-departmental collaborations have increased, most notably between the investment and risk management teams, who now hold joint evaluation sessions. This has fostered more comprehensive strategizing and led to debates on balancing agility with due diligence.
Impact on Leadership
The Agile transformation led to a shift in leadership style from command-and-control to a more collaborative, facilitative role. While some leaders welcomed this change, others felt their authoritative roles were being diminished.
General Observations and Employee Feedback
An internal Agile Coaching Office was established as a resource. Feedback from a simulated employee survey titled "Reflections to Date on Our Agile Journey" indicated:
70% of employees feel decision-making has become more efficient.
40% expressed concerns about 'change fatigue.'
55% appreciated the increased collaboration but cited the need for clearer communication channels.
30% felt their psychological safety was compromised due to rapid changes.